Writing a journal article

What to think about

What are the rules you should be following when writing a journal article? Read some of the best advice given by Taylor & Francis journal editors – follow it and you can’t go far wrong.

Read the journal you’re intending to submit to
Take the time to read at least some of the articles (particularly those that are relevant to your own research). You don’t have to read everything, but look through the issues, and try to understand the types of articles that are being published. Scan the contents lists, sign up for Table of Contents alerts, and look for other papers that have been written in the field that you’re writing in, so you can draw on those.

Stick to the point
The strongest papers usually have one point to make and they make that point powerfully, back it up with evidence, and locate it within the field.

Don’t be afraid to explain
Make sure that you’ve described your methodology and approach; whilst it may seem obvious to you, it may not to your reader. And don’t forget to explain acronyms.

Clarity is key
Make your work accessible by using clear language.

Be aware of the other literature in your field (and reference it)
You can’t review the whole of the relevant literature, but you do need to tell the reader how what you’re doing relates to key work that’s gone before and, if possible, how you are building on it.

Make your references current and relevant
Your literature review should take into consideration the current state of the literature, so don’t talk about “recent research” if you’re giving citations from the 1990s. And when you reference something, ensure you fully understand its relevance to your research, so you can make it clear for your reader.

Be original
You may be building on a concept already in existence but you still need to have something new to say. Make sure you say it convincingly, and fully understand and reference what has gone before.

Editor’s view

“It’s important that authors try to connect their ideas, their issue, and their topic to something that is existing in the insights or interpretations available in the journal. It may be to challenge that, or it may be to confirm it. It may be to re-examine it, or to indicate why, after careful examination of some of the issues in the journal, the topic they’re interested in is underdeveloped, even neglected, certainly not considered in the way they want to argue. Whichever way they want to engage with it, it’s crucial that people take that time and thought to do that.”

Professor Len Barton, Editor of Disability and Society

Discover the four A’s with journal editor Professor David Simon, as he offers advice on what to think about before you start to write. Read the transcript.

Sign up for Table of Contents alerts from Taylor & Francis Online to keep up to date with the research published in your field.